Terms & Conditions 4
The suite in the W hotel is very quiet and dark compared to the sunshine that is beating down on the city outside. When I walk in the door I have to duck passed a down-lighter fixture. I smile when I remember the name of the stupid looking streetlamp thing that is now casting overhead light onto where the interview area is set up. I've been on movie sets a little and while I was filming and working on the soundtracks for Quincy's Promise I took it upon myself to at least pick up some of the lingo so when I went into a situation like the one I'm stepping into now I would at least sound like I know what I'm doing.
"Morning Lance," the reporter says from her seat. I've seen her before, but of course can't remember where. It happens all the time to me. I've done probably a billion and one interviews since nineteen ninety five and everyone starts to melt together. Even the big faces and names merge together. On talk shows they'll normally mention something that I said that last time I was on the show and I won't even remember that I said it, much less that I said it on national television.
"Morning," I say and take a seat and start to fix my shirt and slacks so I look respectable. I think of Tammy for some reason. She's always straightening up things and when we are at home she'll be the one to flip down my collar when it's up or make sure that my jeans aren't caught up against the tongue of my shoe or anything like that.
Jasmine sits down next to me and goes through her own little routine. Her coffee is in her hand and her other hand pushes her hair over her shoulders so she can lean into the cup to drink.
Up until last night I wouldn't have even thought of giving her more than a quick glance, but now that I watch her I could see how someone might think that we were dating. We've hand lunches and a dinner or two here and there for promotional purposes of course and if you'd consider those dates then yeah we dated, but really all I think of her is that she's
I suddenly start to smell lemons. For a moment I think it's tea that she's drinking, but then the coffee smell from the cup meets my nose and I relax a bit. What was that guy's name that did the study with the dogs about environmental conditioning. Chris once told me about it. Pavlov or something like that. If a dog heard a bell ring or something like that he would start to think about food. Where was I? Oh yeah. Pavlov--and the lemon smell keeps staying around me now. When Jasmine leans near me to straighten my shirt collar I smell it again. Lemons everywhere.
"Are you wearing lemon scented something or other?" I ask. I keep my eyes off her, choosing to stare at her foot instead. She's wearing heels again today. I don't understand why women wear the shoes that they wear. Today especially no one is going to see her shoes.
"No," she said, "But the hand soap in the rest room is that bath and bodyworks lemon scented stuff."
I turn my eyes towards the interviewer. Oh how I wish I was on that show Alley McBeal so I could throw daggers at this woman's head. If it weren't for her and the rest of the press in Los Angeles I wouldn't be in this predicament. "Oh."
A smile cracks onto my face and I cover it up. I don't want anything to be misconstrued and have me end up looking like I'm more involved with Jasmine than I already am. I mean I'm not. She's part of that whole movie package and if I want my career to keep going I have to play nice with her in front of the media. "No reason. I thought I was going crazy there for a minute."
"You two ready?"
I nod and look at Jasmine, "I am if you are honey--" My brain goes wild and I swear that I've instantly broken into a cold sweat. I don't mean to call her that, but I have a habit of calling girls honey. Most of them are fans and this definitely is going to be a mistake that is going to be noticed.
"Honey?" Jasmine's eyebrows raise and I pray that she won't draw any more attention to it than already has been pointed at the word. "You're going to have to tell Hugo about that nickname."
The reporter looks like the floor has just dropped out from under her. Her eyes are wide and she's even leaning forwards as if leaning towards us will get her the information faster. "Hugo?"
"He knows who Hugo is." Jasmine uncrosses and crosses her legs again and puts her coffee cup in the hand that is wearing her huge ring. She had it on the night before, but I didn't want to ask her about it. Bringing that up might have let something out of the bag before it was ready to be let out and I didn't want to be blamed for something that she might want to keep secret since clearly she knew that I wasn't dating her, but that I was with someone and made it clear that my relationship wasn't something that needed to be discussed.
"But Jasmine--" I wink at her. "You know that I call everyone honey." I turn towards the reporter who clearly is still in shock. "It's a southern thing. I'd even gotten JC into the habit when we were just coming off tour last time. Now all I hear from people is that JC called them honey, like they are the only ones he says that too--" I stop and pretend that I've let some huge secret out of the bag. "Ohm...you might not want to print that. JC might get mad at me."
"So there isn't anything going on between you two?"
"Nope." I look at Jasmine. "We're friends of course."
"Good friends," Jasmine agrees and makes a face. She's clearly confused and I know I'll have to explain more later, but for now the reporter seems to be satisfied with that answer.
"So what was it like for you both to win awards last night?" She already is writing notes before we get a chance to answer.
"It was great," Jasmine starts the typical answer to the question. She tells of how the work had been hard, the crew was great, the script was amazing and the producer very professional. "Truthfully it was the best experience I've had."
"What about you Lance?" Her mouth runs just as fast as her hand across the page which makes me break into a sweat.
"It was a great experience. I've won music related awards before, even got nominated for a few Oscars with the group, but having it be a solo act kind of a thing really brought the feelings home. I've never really broken out into song writing, but when I read the script and saw some of the early footage of the film I just got instantly inspired and wrote the song." I sigh. I sound like an idiot. "Having the song be associated with such an inspiring movie definitely was an honor."
I tend to zone out during interviews and it's lunchtime before I know it. While Jasmine sits in the other room and eats a salad she's ordered I find myself a burger at the place downstairs with Jake and Sonia in the corner of the sun porch that overlooks the pool. It's not the company I'd like to keep during my lunch hour, but I know that I don't have much choice due to the fact that I have a meeting with the studio after another set of smaller interviews. My team really is great, but sometimes there are times where I'd like to be alone. Before I started the press work for the Oscars I'd had two whole months in LA to record new tracks, hang out with JC and it was then that I'd moved in with Tammy.
"How's your girlfriend?" Sonia asks.
Coughing never works at getting people to change the subject so when I start to feel myself do that I stop and I lean against the table a bit and pick up my hamburger. "Fine." I've been picking at my food a bit, but when she brings up Tammy I take a huge bite and pray that she'll let me out of any further conversation about it because my mouth is full.
"That's good." Sonia smiles at me.
I never can tell what her smiles mean. I've known her for years and that's still one thing I will never understand. She smiles the same no matter what she's doing. Maybe it's from years of practice dealing with the media. An even unassuming smile really can throw someone off. She can be telling you that your contract is up or that they've just resigned you and both smiles are the same. When she told us that Lou Pearlman was counter suing us in late nineteen ninety nine early two thousand she wore that same look on her face.
"How's her job going?" Sonia asks.
I roll my eyes. For the life of me I don't know how her job is going. She was at the awards last night and works most days out of her home office choosing to coordinate her events and the people that work under her from there. Last time I checked in with her she was now managing seven guards. Each was assigned to a different celebrity and while she couldn't reveal which one was which I'd heard a few names floating around. Her company was the second largest in the business, dwarfed only by her family's company. It made no sense for her to work for her firm when her own family was in the same line of work, but according to her it was a matter of principal. She didn't want a hand out, but she also knew the business well enough to know that she couldn't get away from it. "Fine."
"Am I going to get more than a one word answer from you today?"
"Nope." I laugh a little. "What do you want to know so badly?"
"I just want to make sure that you're settled in LA and that this is where you want to be and I know that she's part of the reason that you settled here and I--"
"If anything was wrong I'd tell you,." I hate that she's trying to dig for dirt. I know no one understands why I moved in with Tammy and I don't want them to. Everyone knows everything about me and I don't want it that way anymore. I want some sort of mystery about me again and the whole realization of me actually being a songwriter was just the start of that. "Speaking of her. I should give her a call."
"Call her while we walk. We've got to get back upstairs." Sonia brings out a few twenties and slaps them on the table then looks at Jake. "Did you get the car arranged for later on this afternoon?"
"Always." I trust Jake with my life, but personally if I could get rid of him I would. He's been a great guy to work with up until a few months ago. I know that it's because of the move. Everything seems to have been effected just because I moved in with her. If I knew that this would shake things up so much I would have moved in with someone years ago.
I take one last drink of drink and we leave the restaurant and move into the hotel again out of the son. I know that I won't be able to make my call in the elevator so I wait until we're on the floor to make my call, slowing as we walk. "I'll be there in five."
"Some people get smoke breaks," Jake says, "Lance gets phone breaks."
"Leave him alone." Sonia is a champ taking care of me this way. I know it's hard for her to be involved and not be involved, but she really does love me and the guys enough to know when we need attention and when we don't. For me she's never usually had to keep my private life private, but having her at least take on Jake alongside me this time really makes me glad that she's here.
My fingers dial the number quickly, going into my phone book and pulling the number out before I can really even think about it. As it starts to ring I get a bit nervous. I know that there isn't anyone in the hall that will be getting on my case about the call, but I don't want just anyone to hear me. I finally slide down and take a seat against the wall in the hallway.
"Hey Seven," I say and the tension releases for my back and my arms and I scoot down a little to talk. "How's your morning been?"
"Fine." I can't tell what she's doing, but I picture her walking around the house looking over things on her way back to the office. The apartment is two bedroom and the one that gets the most sunlight is in her office. We argued about it for a day or so after we moved into the place, but she said that she didn't need any sunshine in the bedroom and preceded to demonstrate that fact, something that neither of us seemed to mind. "How about you?"
"Good." Damn. My reaction to hearing her on the phone and thinking of the bedroom really has set me on edge. We made love last night after arguing. It wasn't the best way to end the evening, but it had assured the both of us that something like our careers weren't going to pull us apart. "It's boring and I wish I was home, but I'm not gonna be out of here until at least three and then I have a meeting until about five with the execs. I think I might be able to sign on to another movie project real quickly which means I'll be in Los Angeles for another few months working on songs if I can get a string of movies pulled together."
"What about the group?" Damn her for reminding me of them. I know that I haven't totally broken away from the group--no one has really, but for the moment none of us want to think of doing another album together. Justin is on tour at the moment and JC is about to drop his album. Chris spent last summer with Ron on the road then settled in pretty well in Orlando and Joey has been doing the acting thing and hosting some shows. I took my time getting back to work, but now that I have gotten back into the swing of things I can't really think of doing the group thing. Hanging out with JC and Justin when they are in town is one thing, but working together, going back to Orlando to record doesn't sound like something I want to do, at least for a while and from what I can tell none of the other guys are too interested in going back to work together at least until the new year.
"They're all busy." They have things going on. She knows that, but I also knows that she likes to ask me about it to make me stop and think about it. Sometimes I get so into what I'm doing that I lose track of everything else going on. "Justin should be in town in a day or so to play The Duck Pond if you want to go."
"Sure," she said, "I think a few of my guys are going to be there so--"
"I meant that maybe we could actually have a date."
"How is that going to work?"
"Assign one of your guys to me for the night. I'll call Loni and make sure it happens then you can show up and be checking on him--"
"It sounds too complicated Lance."
"Well your the one making it that way. If you want I can set it up so we can watch from somewhere else. I don't know. Maybe we could just hang out at the show together and not even watch it." Anger clouds my judgment and I start to yell about things before I know what I'm doing.
"Shit." She swears. "Someone's at the door."
Why is it always that someone is at the door or the phone rings when something important needs to be discussed. Why couldn't that happen when I needed it earlier when we were discussing my relationship status. Why couldn't we then be interrupted instead of me being stuck trying to get myself out of the situation?
Her voice is away from the phone, but I hear the tone there and the name and I know that she needs to get off the phone. "Timothy."
I get up and start to pace. I'm not normally a pacer, but right then I'm nervous, not only for the conversation, but because the conversation is ending so quickly.
"Honey." I hate when her voice gets this way. Her visitor isn't an intruder or anything of that nature, but I know that his presence in the apartment is seriously putting her in a bad mood. "I need to go."
"I'll talk to you later Seven."
"Who's Seven?" I hear behind me.
"No one," I say, "One of my secret agents." I laugh off the question and hope that my joke has taken the attention away from me and Tammy for a bit more.
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